American Hunter-Reay wins Indy 500
Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara, celebrates in Victory Lane with milk after winning the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana - by Jonathan Ferrey
Hunter-Reay edged three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves by only .06 of a second after 200 laps of the 2 1/2-mile (4km) Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for his first Indy 500 triumph.
"It's a dream come true," Hunter-Reay said. "I can't even believe it."
Hunter-Reay led off a restart with six laps remaining after the race was halted to clear debris off the track.
Castroneves passed for the lead on the inside entering turn one with five laps to go, but Hunter-Reay took the lead back in the third turn of lap 197 with a daring inside move.
Castroneves, trying to become only the fourth man to win a record four Indy 500s, went to the outside to reclaim the lead on the first turn of lap 199.
But Hunter-Reay went outside on the front straightaway as the white flag waved to signal the start of the last lap, passed Castroneves just before the first turn and held off a final pass attempt at the finish line to win.
"It was a fantastic fight to the finish," Hunter-Reay said. "We all raced each other clean but really hard. I was just biding my time and waiting for the right opportunities."
Castroneves could only smile and shake his head.
"They did an outstanding job. It was close. It's a shame so close but today was Ryan Hunter-Reay's day," he said.
"It was a great fight. I was having a great time. Unfortunately, second, it's good, but second sucks."
US racer Marco Andretti, the grandson of 1969 Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti, could not end the family's 45-year Indy jinx, settling for third.
Michael Andretti, Marco's father, celebrated his third Indy 500 win as a car owner and praised Hunter-Reay's effort.
"He ran a perfect last-six laps," Andretti said. "To have him win was awesome. If it couldn't be Marco, I'm glad it was him."
Colombia's Carlos Munoz was fourth, followed in order by Colombia's Juan Pablo Montoya, US rookie Kurt Busch, France's Sebastien Bourdais, Australian Will Power and US teen rookie Sage Karam.
- Crashes set up drama -
New Zealand's Scott Dixon crashed in the fourth turn to set up the final pit stops with 30 laps remaining and a tense restart with 25 laps to go.
Leader Hunter-Reay sped off at the restart while pole sitter Ed Carpenter and Canadian front-row neighbor James Hinchcliffe took each other out in the first turn fighting for second.
Both tried to run side-by-side on the inside of American Townsend Bell but instead crashed into each other and the outer wall.
"Amateur move," Carpenter said. "Townsend and I would have been fine. The problem came when Hinch wanted to go three wide. You just can't stick it in there. Dumb move."
"I was the last guy there so I've got to take a portion of the blame," said Hinchcliffe. "I had to go for it -- 100 percent not Ed's fault. I feel bad for him."
Another restart with 20 laps remaining saw Hunter-Reay seize the lead ahead of Andretti and Castroneves and the three began exchanging positions.
Hunter-Reay was in front of Castroneves with Andretti third when Bell crashed in turn two, scattering so much debris that officials halted the race to clean the track, setting up the final drama.
Hometown hero Carpenter and Hinchcliffe exchanged the early lead. Power and Andretti each took the lead ahead of the second set of pit stops, which concluded with Castroneves just in front of Andretti on lap 68.
Hunter-Reay, aided by a quick pit stop, led at the halfway mark just ahead of Castroneves, Andretti and Carpenter. With no crashes or caution flags for the first 149 laps, the midway speed pace was an Indy record 211.953 mph (339.124 k/hr).
Andretti took the lead with teammate Hunter-Reay second after 140 laps, but after the next pit stops it was Hunter-Reay and Carpenter exchanging the lead until Dixon's crash began the closing drama.